A hurricane is churning in the Gulf and forecasts put the storm on a track to slam into Tampa Bay, triggering emergency officials to call for evacuations.
Basically, prepare ahead of time. Check maps each county provides to see if you live in an evacuation zone, and which one. If you live in a mobile home, you will be included in any evacuation order.
Be ready to secure your home before you go by bringing inside anything that could be hurled by the wind, turning off the electricity and gas, and boarding windows.
When planning what to take, think of it as a three- to five-day camping trip.
Before the evacuation order, you should take some steps:
- Gather essential papers like birth certificates, insurance policies, photographs or a videotape of your belongings for insurance claims, deeds and mortgages, stock certificates, savings and checking account books and anything else that would be difficult to replace. Have them in one place such as a briefcase or inside watertight plastic bags.
- An additional safeguard is to make photo copies of the documents and keep them someplace not likely to be damaged by a storm or mail them to relatives away from storm areas.
- Know where you intend to go and the evacuation routes. If possible, stay with friends or relatives in a safer location. Hotels along the evacuation routes will likely be packed. Go to a public shelter only if there are no other options.
- Plan the safety of your pet
- Also agree on a relative or friend to act as a contact if your family gets separated, and let someone know where you will be.
What to take:
- It could be several days before you are allowed back to your home if damage is extensive. It will take time to clear debris and powerlines. No one will be allowed back into evacuated areas until search and rescue work is finished.
- Ideally, the order lifting the evacuation will be announced in the evening and begin the next morning and include all evacuation areas. Emergency officials don’t want people returning to damaged neighborhoods in the dark.
- Bring at least three days of clothing, including underwear and socks, for everyone. Take sturdy work clothes, gloves and boots.
- Include personal toiletries.
- If you have an infant, be sure to take all the diapers, bottles, food, clothing and formula you will need for at least three days. Pack blankets and a portable crib if there is room.
- Include any medication you need as well as copies of prescriptions and your doctor’s name. Also, pack things like aspirin, decongestants, diarrhea medication and antacids. If you have any special dietary needs, include those foods.
- Some basic hand tools like pliers, hammer, wrenches, screwdrivers, utility knife, wire cutters, flashlight, battery-powered radio and duct tape.
- Take cash as well as your ATM and credit cards, but remember that if electricity is lost your cards may be useless.